April 1, 2006

NOT IN THE WIND:

Everyone to the Cinema, to Listen to “The Great Silence”: The film was shot at the Grande Chartreuse in Grenoble, and is 162 minutes of pure contemplation. In Germany, it has met with surprising success. And now it has come to Rome (Sandro Magister, March 30, 2006, Chiesa)

The original title in German is “Die Grosse Stille,” the great silence. It is a title that is more than appropriate for 162 uninterrupted minutes of pure contemplation. The soundtrack is made only of the chiming of bells, nighttime psalmody, footsteps, wind, rain, and very little else.

It’s just like the passage of God in the First Book of Kings, 19:11-13:

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and powerful wind tore through the mountains, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was the whispering of a gentle wind.”

These words – like others in the Bible that are no less powerful – appear on the screen repeatedly throughout the film. But these repetitions are always fresh, like the liturgies in Gregorian chant, the seasons of nature, and the daily lives of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse.

Because the only characters in the film are the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery of Grenoble, in the French Alps, the mother of all the Carthusian monasteries in the world.

Philip Gröning, 46, from Düsseldorf in Germany, lived there for six months, armed only with a movie camera and a Super 8. He did everything himself: staging, production, direction, filming, sound, editing. There is no artificial lighting, no music, no offscreen narration.

But this is exactly where the film’s appeal lies. It is humble and transparent. It reveals without explaining. It penetrates the soul like a fertile seed.


Sounds almost like a film version of Gavin Bryars' Jesus Blood.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 1, 2006 12:01 AM
Comments

I've been dying to see this film. I wonder how long it's going to take to get to the US on dvd.

Apparently it's out on dvd already in Germany. I might just have to negotiate Amazon.de to get it.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 1, 2006 1:26 PM

Why don't you ask the guys at David's Medienkritik for help?

Posted by: Sandy P at April 1, 2006 1:52 PM
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